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As Regular Blood Donors Age, A 'New Generation' Is Needed

Courtesy of Community Blood Center
At 683 donations, Wendell Clark of Eaton is Community Blood Center's top donor. He was inducted into the Fresenius Kabi National Donation Hall of Fame in 2017.

Blood centers across the state are looking to replenish supplies after the holidays and find new donors. Thanks to a House bill signed into law last year, January is officially Blood Donor Awareness Month in Ohio - part of the national push to increase donations.

"We need a new generation of donors to step up, for not just the older donors who are coming into a time in their life where they may be donating less or may actually need blood," says Mark Pompilio with Community Blood Center. "But also to find new platelet and plasma donors. This is a real mission of 2019."

In general, hospitals are using less blood than in the past, but the number of people donating is also declining.

Community Blood Center (CBC), Hoxworth and other institutions around the state are reaching out to new donors with special blood drives this month and giveaways like special t-shirts and gift cards.

Finding new platelet and plasma donors is especially important.

"If you have the right blood type for it - you're an A, AB or B positive - and maybe you have a high platelet count that makes you especially suited for it, then maybe you'll find it a calling. Like, 'Hey, this is me that fits the bill for this. Maybe it's me that needs to step forward and do this.' We're hoping that will be a calling for people as they make a New Year's resolution to do something good in the world for 2019," Pompilio says.

CBC, which is based in Dayton and serves 15 counties in Southwest Ohio and Indiana, is looking for ways to make it easier and more convenient to donate plasma and platelets. Pompilio says they plan to get more of the necessary equipment out in the field during community blood drives so people who may be interested can donate more readily.

A special event kicking off Blood Donor Awareness Month in Ohio is set for Friday morning in Dayton and CBC's top donor will be on hand to help.

Wendell Clark of Eaton has donated 683 times, and the number would be higher if not for a two-year hiatus from donating when he was treated for cancer.

"He knows of special cases over the years where his blood has gone to maybe a child in need or someone with a severe condition that needed blood that he was a perfect match for," Pompilio says. "Those experiences really inspire him to keep going."

Clark was inducted into the Fresenius Kabi National Donation Hall of Fame in 2017. He's scheduled to donate again next week.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.